Adverse Effects Associated With The Use Of South African Traditional Folk Remedies
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At least 80% of people in the South African black community use folk remedies obtained from traditional healers.1'2 The reasons for use of these remedies include community pressure, spiritual needs and lack of access to physicians. Because of the large numbers of people using them, most remedies are not likely to be harmful, but as with western medicine, folk remedies are associated with “iatrogenic” complications. Information about the potential toxicity of folk remedies is limited however, because of secrecy surrounding their use, so making the systematic study of the spectrum of clinical presentations and the nature of any toxic substances difficult. Studies from all over Africa are hampered by similar problems, but it is clear that the use of folk remedies is associated with significant morbidity and mortality across the continent.